architecture / design / details / landscape / materials

Zen Pavilions Create Calm for Patients

by Will Scribner, FAIA | SMBW PLLC

The new clinic for Affiliated Dermatologists of Virginia is an intentional departure from the typical Richmond medical facility. The complex was conceived as a pair of Zen pavilions in a partially wooded landscape, spare and elegant in their design. The site solution preserves the tree canopy along the Shrader Road frontage and places the buildings and parking to the rear of the site. This treed area, with small groves of holly and swamp magnolia, serves as a stormwater management area and bio-filtration device. The overall use of the site reflected the Owner’s concerns for the environment and her desire that the building would reflect her values and those of the practice.

The two pavilions, a 6,500 square foot clinic and a 2,500 square foot surgery center, define a walled garden. A high sheltering roof hovers over the waiting areas, connecting the two buildings, covering a landscaped terrace, and framing the view into the garden. Waiting areas and lobbies open onto this contained landscape, providing a serene and daylit environment for waiting patients. The result is an interior environment that exerts a calming influence on patients waiting to see the physician.

The layout of the building interiors was driven by a functional model designed for maximum efficiency in the movement of patients, physicians, staff and supplies. The orderly layout is easily “read” by patients who no longer get lost in a maze of corridors and small rooms. The material and color palette is light and crisp, and the furnishings are Modernist and sleek, reinforcing the message of a clinical efficiency. According to the staff, patient reaction to the building has been extremely positive, with a noticeable increase in patient volume.

In a marriage of architectural design and practice considerations, the two-building concept creates a pleasing engagement with the landscape and admits filtered daylight into the exam rooms  – the best lighting for color rendition when performing skin exams.



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